Zebra King: Detroit Lions TE Brock Wright lives on an exotic ranch in Texas

Detroit Free Press

Detroit Lions tight end Brock Wright caught his first NFL touchdown in last week’s win over the Minnesota Vikings. The undrafted rookie sat down with the Free Press this week to answer five questions. Some questions and answers are edited for clarity and brevity.

You scored your first touchdown last week. What are you doing with the touchdown ball? 

It’s funny, so I actually talked to Jared (Goff) before the game and if I were to score a touchdown, we decided I should spike it. So when you see him come up to me in the end zone, he’s actually telling me — you actually see him push me to go spike the ball. And then afterwards, I saw he was kind of pointing to it, and I had to go back and get on field goal. But actually Amon-Ra (St. Brown) went and grabbed the ball for me, ironically enough. So he kept his at the end of the game, so the equipment guys ended up hanging onto it for me, so they got it safe in there.

Does it go to mom or dad, or what do you do with it?

My mom will definitely want it, so whenever I get it back from them, I’ll probably take it back down to Houston.

How did you celebrate the last touchdown you had at Notre Dame?

Sophomore year against Wake Forest, that was my only touchdown. I don’t remember, but we won that game, so I celebrated the win more than the touchdown.

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I’ve got to ask about your parents and, I don’t know if exotic zoo is the right term, but explain the ranch they have in Texas.

It’s a high-fenced exotic ranch. They’re actually pretty common in Texas growing up, so we actually grew up — my dad’s from west Texas, Amarillo area, and his family goes back to cattle ranching, kind of Wheeler County area up there in the panhandle. But we grew up, that’s far away for us, so we grew up spending a lot of time out in the hill country on deer leases. We love to hunt, and then also spending time down on the coast in the Galveston area. Whenever we weren’t playing sports, that’s what we’d do.

But a couple years ago, my parents bought this high-fenced ranch near Iola, Texas, and so that’s kind of what we do. That’s what we spend a lot of our time doing now whenever I’m back home. So go out there, it’s just peaceful and just fun. We have a bunch of different species out there, so after football I think that might be something I end up doing with my dad as a little side gig for fun.

Why did your parents want an exotic ranch?

We’ve always enjoyed hunting and wildlife, but also just enjoying the outdoors and also a place that we could have for ourselves. So when you get out there it’s almost like, you can get on the mower, go mow the grass, or get in one of the tractors and it’s like you’re just away from everything and it’s just peace. You can kind of just zone out the rest of the world, so it’s kind of a little sanctuary, our own place where we can go just to have to ourselves. And I know my parents are happiest there, happiest down at the beach, and us kids we take after them.

I saw a list, but what species do you have on the ranch?

The most notable one, the one that people always think is the coolest is the zebras. We have four zebras and I can just go down the line. We have gemsbok, red stag, scimitar oryx, black buck, of course white tail. A bunch of axis and fallow, sitka. We had a couple llamas that passed. We have two donkeys. A bunch of bass in the ponds and I’m probably forgetting a couple species. I don’t know if I mentioned the nilgai, but a lot of cool stuff.

When I hear exotic ranch, I think Tiger King. I think a lot of people probably do. You laugh, but is your ranch spectator friendly?

No, it’s nothing like that. They’re wild, wild game, so nothing’s in a cage or anything like that. I used to joke like maybe we should be Zebra King and get some more zebra in here and herd them around. But no, nothing like that. It’s more wild, cause there’s a bunch of land for them to go roam and we have a bunch of brush out there. It’s really cool.

Do your parents actively seek other animals to add to the ranch? 

Yeah, so that’s part of it. My dad, there’s some people he’s connected with down there that they work in, I don’t know what the technical term would be, but exotic game brokerage, basically. So they’ll ship animals, bring them in and then you can sell them. It’s actually a really big business back home, but it’s pretty cool. Something I would probably like to be a part of.

So what’s next on the list to get? 

That’s a good question.

Are there any thoughts of having tigers?

I told my dad it’d be cool to get one tiger just to spice up the danger a little bit, just to keep you on your toes. But I don’t know if we could have it going around.

What did you think of Tiger King?

I actually watched it with my parents during quarantine and we loved it. We thought it was hilarious. It’s sad and funny and just like super intriguing at the same time. Did you watch it?

I did. I sort of echo what you said. I thought it was a very interesting. Certainly sad on some level. He was crazy, but I had no clue that was a big thing.

That’s the stat people always say, there’s more tigers in captivity in Texas than in the rest of the wild, which is a crazy thought, but it makes sense after you see people with properties like that.

Do you know any real life Tiger Kings through the exotic game world?

No, I don’t. There’s actually a lot of, like drive-thru zoos are kind of a big thing back home. I’ve never been to one, but people have properties where you can go and feed animals and stuff like that.

How do you think a Zebra King would be received if you got your wish and had your own Zebra King show?

Hopefully better than Tiger King. I’m sure we’d treat them better, let them roam. Who knows? Maybe one day that’ll be a possibility.

You got to find a foil like Carol Baskin.

Yes. An arch nemesis.

It’s holiday season, so what kind of gift-giver are you? Are you a gift card guy? How do you shop for presents?

I’m the worst Christmas shopper. See, my whole family lives back in Houston, so every year we’ve had to do a delayed Christmas with me, so we don’t do Christmas until January, basically. When I was at Notre Dame, we’d be in like a New Year’s Six bowl or playoff or whatever, so I knew I had time to get a gift so I’d push it off to get gifts for everybody, and then by the time it was there, I was a little too late so I’d kind of just get whatever. But this year, hopefully I’ll get some good gifts for the family.

I’ve asked guys before and they take Nike or whoever they have a deal with and just pull from their allotment of free stuff to give gifts. Did you re-gift your bowl gifts at Notre Dame? Not that I want to give you ideas.

Yeah, we used to get gift cards to Best Buy and Visa gift cards and stuff like that. I never needed anything from Best Buy, so I’d just get something for my mom or sister.

I’ve heard all the stories. Last thing: Favorite hobby outside of football?

I probably spend most of my time when I’m not doing football stuff, probably golfing is my biggest hobby. I love to golf. I wouldn’t claim to be a great golfer, but I’ve gotten tremendously better since I started. I have like a mini golf obsession, I’d say.

What’s your handicap? And what’s your favorite course you’ve played?

Handicap would probably be like mid-teens right now. Some days I’ll play really well if my short game’s going good, I’m putting well, then I’ll be fine. And if I can get it off the tee. I know it’s like if I can do this, this, this and this.

And your favorite course?

Champions Golf Club back home. That’s where we kind of grew up out there. My parents had their wedding reception there, same with my sister, so we were like members growing up there. It’s an awesome course, just down in Cypress.

I have to circle back for one thing that I forgot to ask: How do you care for a zebra? I remember how much money and food they spent on tigers in Tiger King. How do you care for zebras?

Zebras are one of the more low-maintenance animals, you’d say, because they kind of just graze. So there’s a few animals that just graze, but then when it comes to most of the species out there, we have a lot of feeders out there, so we put out a lot of the feed ourselves. So that’s probably the biggest chore out there. We have protein feeders, which help them get large, and then like corn feeders. Deer love corn. All the animals of the deer species, like axis. It takes quite a bit of work. And then also the grass grows like crazy out there when it rains, so you’ve got to cut it and then my dad will bail up the hay and sell the hay.

How many acres is the ranch?

It’s mid-300s, and he’s trying to expand it right now.

So when you have your ranch one day when you’re old and retired and football’s a thing of the past, and you’re watching your kids or grandkids play, what animals are you going to have on your ranch?

That’s a good question. It’s got to be whatever the kids want. My dad, right now there’s only one grandchild in the family, it’s my sister’s 2-year-old and one of the ponds is already name Tommy’s Pond. It’s the one with the most fish and he said, we don’t have horses right now, but he said if Tommy wants a horse when he’s older, we’re going to get horses. So I think it’ll probably be along those lines. Whatever the kids want.

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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